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DATE News (chronologically)
06/17/11
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Milwaukee Friday News Tidbits
Alex Tagliani's car on the hook
Tim Wohlford/AR1.com
- We can't say that the Milwaukee people aren't trying to see out the Sunday race.  Announced today is that the lowest 3 ticket tiers are "Buy one get one free."  Tickets for all of Saturday's races are only $25, and given the schedule, should give people a lot of racing for the money.  With NASCAR in Michigan (a seven hour drive), The June Sprints in Elkhart Lake (a hour and a half up the road),  Grand-Am and NASCAR Nationwide at Elkhart Lake next weekend and another IndyCar race in Iowa (no more than 7 hours away) in 7 days that's a lot of racing trying for the same dollars. Could the date have been worse?

- Milwaukee's car count is 254.  That's right, 254 race cars for this weekend.  126 are USAC quarter midgets, but 26 are Izod IndyCar entrants.  -

What's left of Meira's Dallara Honda
Tim Wohlford/AR1.com

-  Two cars had incidents during Friday's practice.  Alex Tagliani simply scrubbed the wall, and damage appeared to be limited to his front wing.  He returned to the track later in practice.  Not so lucky was Vitor Meira, who collected the wall hard and will be forced into a backup car. 

- Ilmor Engineering appears to be on target for a first run of its new "Chevrolet" IndyCar engine in October.  It is a tradition for new engine startups to be "broadcast" worldwide to all Ilmor office, with campaign following the joyful noises of a screaming motor.

- The Push to Pass system this weekend has twenty uses, for 11 seconds each.  There is a 10 second "recharge" period between bursts.  The system adds about 200 RPM, or about 10 horsepower. Tim Wohlford reporting from Milwaukee

DAY 1 INDYCAR NOTEBOOK:

Six different open-wheel racing series are represented this weekend at the Milwaukee Mile. Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan, both race winners at the Mile and IZOD IndyCar Series champions, have been watching the track activity this week.

"We stay at the racetrack so it's nice to see a bunch of different cars and the drivers coming up," said Kanaan, who's driving the No. 82 GEICO KV Racing Technology-Lotus entry. "I think it's great not just for us but also for the fans so they can come watch everybody race this weekend."

Added Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car: "From a category that starts out with kids all the way up to IndyCars is a great weekend for all. And being the Father's Day weekend it's cool for fathers and their kids to spend some time together at the track and see different kinds of racing. Some tracks that we go to, apart from our race there's not much going on so it's nice to have a lot going on and different kinds of fomulaes you can see."

***

A few minutes after climbing from the No. 82 GEICO KV Racing Technology-Lotus car for the initial practice session of the weekend on the Milwaukee Mile, Tony Kanaan climbed in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater to treat three-time Ironman triathlon champion Chris Lieto to a high-speed ride.

Kanaan, who will compete in the Ford Ironman World Championship (a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mike bike and 26.2-mile run consecutively) in Hawaii in October, and Lieto hooked up a day earlier to test their Trek bicycles on the oval.

"It was crazy. For me, the most surprising thing was how fast you're going in the corners," Lieto said. "I thought there was no way the car could stay on the track with the force going in."

Lieto, the current U.S. Ironman 70.3 champion, has set more than 50 bike course records on five continents over his 14-year career. He said Kanaan, who competed in the 70.3 World Championship in November in Clearwater, Fla., will fare well.

"It will be challenging for sure, but I told him that he has an advantage because the racing is very much in the mind, and the Ironman comes down to the mental side of it," said Lieto, who trains about 500 miles on the bike alone leading up to a triathlon. "Along with the work he does for the racing, he has the mental edge and the ability to push himself through when it gets difficult.

"I think he'll really surprise himself and do well."

***

As only the Irish can, Milwaukee Irish Fest is excited to welcome fellow Irishman and Mazda Road to Indy driver Wayne Boyd to Milwaukee. Boyd is currently competing in the Cooper's Tire US F2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda in support of the IZOD IndyCar Milwaukee 225 this weekend at the historic Milwaukee Mile.

"A welcome by the Irish-American community here in Milwaukee is very much appreciated," stated Boyd. "It's an honor to represent my country and I hope that my efforts on the race track can, not only represent Ireland well, but make a difference too. Being embraced by Milwaukee Irish Fest, my fellow Irishman here in the states, as well as the fans that have enjoyed the festival over the past 30-plus years, is a great feeling! I very much appreciate the support."

The 2011 season of competition marks the first visit to America for the 20-year-old year Belfast native. To help introduce Wayne to the Irish-American community, Milwaukee Irish Fest will be posting photos and tweets from Wayne's racing world.

In appreciation for the outreach, Boyd will carry the Milwaukee Irish Fest name on the #4 Belardi Auto Racing car this weekend at the Milwaukee Mile. People are invited to stop by the paddock this weekend to welcome Wayne to America. In addition, Boyd will be racing at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., which is the same weekend as Milwaukee Irish Fest (August 18 through 21). He plans to visit the festival to meet with fans and other VIPs.

***

USF2000 racer Zach Veach and Andretti Autosport are carrying a special decal on Veach's car at the Milwaukee Mile to spread awareness and help raise funds for the family of Xzavier Davis-Bilbo.

Six-year-old Xzavier was paralyzed in October 2010 when a driver, who was texting while driving, struck him while he and his sister crossed the street. As a result of the crash, Xzavier is wheelchair-bound and on a ventilator to breathe. Due to the child's medical needs his family is unable to afford a wheelchair accessible van that will make transporting Xzavier possible. Currently, the only time the young child is able to leave his home is for routine doctor visits.

16-year-old Veach has brought together his team, Andretti Autosport, The Michael Andretti Foundation and Racing for Kids to partner with FocusDriven to bring awareness and support to a family who was tragically affected by a distracted driving incident.

"I was heart-broken when I heard about Xzavier's story," said Veach, who begins practice for his USF2000 race at the Milwaukee Mile on Thursday, June 16 during a promoter test day. "Being part of FocusDriven and working with the Department of Transportation shines a bright light on so many stories just like Xzavier and unfortunately so many of them end with taking the life of the individual. From this tragic incident, Xzavier's life is completely changed and we have to do all we can to help him and his family live as normal of a life as possible. I'm honored to have heard this family's story, to help them in a small way and for the care of my fellow Andretti Autosport teammates as well as Racing for Kids and The Michael Andretti Foundation's additional support."

***

How does the Mile rate with drivers?

"Either you love it or you just want to get through the weekend," said Kanaan, who has won twice here (2006 and '07) and has started from the last row (1998 and '99).

Dixon, who termed the Mile "a driver's track," pointed out that in 2004 he destroyed two cars in a total of four laps.

"This is a race if you win you feel really rewarded," Dixon said. "When you get out (of the car) you feel like you've had a long, hard day's work and you've achieved something."

***

Conquest Racing's Sebastian Saavedra will make his initial IZOD IndyCar Series appearance at the Mile. He finished third in the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights race. ... The track is 1.015 miles for the purposes of INDYCAR Timing & Scoring.

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